Agriculture On Display
How agricultural organizations and farming businesses can make the most of trade shows and farmer’s markets
It’s okay to show off sometimes – in fact you should. It pays to “put your best food forward” (altered idiom intended). Maybe expos and markets aren’t the kind of visibility or outreach to which you have dedicated much time or money in the past. Maybe they sound like a LOT of work. Are they worth it?
The answer is yes, and we’ll walk you through why.
Let us speak to the agricultural organizations for a minute – the associations and coalitions that exist to support and promote our farmers’ best interests.
Why attend trade shows and expos? Let us break down the “why four.”
- To put it most simply, “to see and be seen.” In other words, to strengthen your presence, and your relevance, with your audience base and within your industry. It is a physical and personal way to increase your brand recognition.
- At these shows, you can connect with potential clients or members, as well as network with other players in your industry.
- These events are the perfect venue for rolling out new products, services, and programs; think promoting a new grant or assistance program or (extolling/showcasing) the benefits of membership.
- Most importantly, shows should be seen not as a place to deposit a static display, but as a venue for engaging your audience, with the purpose of furthering your organization’s goals, whatever those may be. We will give you some specific suggestions on how to do that most effectively a little later.
Now let’s talk to the farmers about why participating in farmer’s markets is a worthwhile use of time and resources. We can summarize the reasons with a very similar “why four.”
- They create exposure for your farm. They build awareness with potential customers and increase your brand recognition in a compelling way.
- They provide a great opportunity to connect with, engage, and build relationships with your customer base – thus building valuable brand loyalty (and repeat business). “A main reason that customers come to farmers’ markets is to establish a relationship with the people they are buying from,” said Mary Peabody with the University of Vermont Extension in The Art and Science of Farmers’ Market Display.
- Farmer’s markets are an ideal place to introduce new products (like expanding to include yogurt or a new line of smoked meats and cheeses) or services, such as curbside pickup or delivery.
- Finally, markets are good for the bottom line. Displaying your goods in person or offering samples and tastings to your target market, is a highly effective way to makes sales.
The extent to which you are successful hinges largely on how well you design your display space.
Exhibiting at trade shows is an involved process. For those new to exhibiting, it can be overwhelming. It’s a worthwhile investment to enlist the help of experts. Even experienced exhibitors can benefit from a creative partner to take your space to the next level, execute your vision, or bring that “Wow!” factor.
Here’s what the process should consist of:
Step 1: Get the picture
The partner should learn about your agricultural organization and get to know your brand. You should discuss the trade shows or expos you would like to attend.
Step 2: Drill into the details
Talk with your partner about your goals and the budget that you have allocated. This impacts what kind of solutions can be designed and produced for your space.
Step 3: Review rules and regs
It’s important to carefully review the specifics of the space you will occupy. A professional partner can help you with some of the legwork of checking the show’s rules for exhibitors, so that you end up with a display that fits and meets all regulations.
Step 4: Make it happen
Once your space is designed, attention turns to how to produce the necessary components. Most design partners contract with specialty producers of large-format signs, tables and stands, backdrops, banners, and more. They can help negotiate the best pricing, transfer the design files in the right format, and plan for production time.
Step 5: Get there!
Whether prepping for an expo hours away or a trade show nearby, your partner can help you arrange for shipping and delivery of your display or portable/pop-up solutions, or advise on the best way to transport and set up your exhibition space.
The goals of a good-looking exhibit are to attract more foot traffic, show them who you are with a space that reflects your mission and values, create a memorable interaction or experience (more on that in a minute), and increase your return on investment (ROI) in the event.
As for making it memorable, some ideas include having a photo backdrop for selfies, samples or tastings, contests, giveaways (everybody loves free stuff – and branded merchandise is win-win), videos, and even virtual reality (VR).
Farmer’s market displays can benefit from all of the above, but the space is usually simpler, often outdoors, and generally more focused on the direct sale of goods.
“A good display is a great strategy for increasing sales,” Peabody emphasizes in the farmers’ market display guide. “Use your selling space to create a sensory-rich experience for potential customers and you will see your sales increase dramatically.”
Bernadine Wiesen, executive director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Rensselaer County, says that a well-presented farmer’s market booth is critical to not only attracting and retaining customers but educating consumers in their efforts to purchase safe, nutritious, and responsibly raised or prepared farm products.
Creating an effective farmers’ market booth, Wiesen says, involves having attractive and visible signage, being organized in your presentation of products so that consumers can easily see what is available, and labelling goods clearly. Also important is “showing images of your farm or items that represent your farm so that buyers feel as if they know where their food is coming from.”
Peabody says that at the market, the staff are part of the display. Make sure they are accessible, friendly, and wear something that easily identifies them with your farm or business: have aprons, shirts, hats, nametags, buttons, or jackets made that match your brand and your space.
Looking for help to design a great display space and create those successful in-person interactions with likely leads or new and existing customers? Contact us to get started.
Founded in 1989, Spiral Design is a full-service design firm specializing in design for marketing. Contact us today.